Touring a city is my ideal vacation, and London is among my favorite destinations. It is a quirky, fascinating, congested metropolis that mixes modern skyscrapers with ancient cathedrals. What could be better? Anticipating a visit to the capital of the United Kingdom, a friend asked me about my favorites spots, so here are a few:
- St. Paul’s Cathedral was built between 1675 and 1710 in the shape of a cross. It still functions as an active parish church. Standing under the huge dome, you look up to intricate murals of prophets and saints. The scale is overwhelming. I have a souvenir poster hanging in my office to remind me that is one of the largest domes in the world, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The city is populated with his church spires.
- Millennium Bridge is a modern pedestrian span on axis with St. Paul’s. It was built during the millennium celebration in the Year 2000. Enjoy the views up and down the Thames River.
- Westminster Abbey (1066 ) is a beautiful late-Gothic cathedral. It has been used for many royal coronations and the final resting place for famous British dignitaries, like Winston Churchill. Again the scale is out of sight. Think about the expert masons who constructed this masterpiece.
- Tower of London is a must stop for anyone interested the British sometimes gruesome royal history. The red uniformed Yeomen Warders entertain with amusing stories.
- Harrods opened in 1849. Wandering between retail displays in this seven-story department store brings you through a variety of bizarre interiors, the chocolate confectionery being particularly memorable.
- British Museum is said to be the nation’s largest with more than four million objects on display. It has a monumental collection of Egyptian and Greek sculpture and architectural pieces. The food court is now enclosed by a soaring steel and glass dome, designed by Sir Norman Foster, one my favorite contemporary architects.
- Swiss-Re Headquarters is a pickle shaped skyscraper nicknamed “the Gherkin.” also designed by Foster and Partners. Another of Foster’s modern designs is the spherical City Hall, described by our guide on the double-decker bus as resembling a stack of round pizza boxes.
- Hampton Court Palace is a pleasant train ride out of town and well worth the trip. It is a mere country residence built in the1500’s. The most famous resident may have been King Henry VIII. The succession of rooms and halls in the royal palace goes on and on. Then there are 60 acres of formal gardens.
- Back in town, you can easily get around in the subway or in the more comfortable black cabs.
I am saving my pennies for our next visit.